What Can We Learn From the Goddess Necklace Trend?

When looking up the title of a book from 2000 that seems to be from a deceased author (hence nowhere online, and likely a soon-to-be-victim of what we call in library science “orphaned works”), my eyes were assaulted with advertising. This is unsurprising, as Google’s search engine is primarily an advertising machine that just so happens to be useful for the searching it was originally marketed for; but, in the vein of what I posted months ago about the entire “spiritual routines” genre, I want to make another post about what these ads told me.

Let’s start with the text from a website called “Awe Inspired,” which markets a $420 (discounted from $480) 14k gold vermeil set of Norse Goddess necklaces:

Awaken your inner Norse Goddess with this exquisite necklace set featuring Freya, Frigg, and Hel. Each transcendent in her own way, these Goddesses will imbue your soul with fiery energy, strength, and wisdom. Be unstoppable with help from these feminine icons.

You may be thinking, “has paganism reached the stage at which this level of American capitalism is necessary,” but that’s not 100% of what is going on here. Many people, including a lot of atheists, are very drawn to the idea of Goddesses without actually worshipping them. The company, however, is secular, as we can see from this screenshot.

If you're using a screen reader, select the link to the item I just mentioned and pan through the menus. The screenshot is the visual version of the menu

As we can see from the screenshot, the top Goddesses include Joan of Arc, a woman from French history who was very devoted to the Christian God despite being very Athenaic in her personal expression. (I relate to Athene in a similar way, too, despite being very Apollonaic.) You will also see that there is a category for “Real-Life Goddesses” (pretty sure anyone acculturated into Platonism is smirking about the real-life descriptor because triads, because proceeding, lol), which includes Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, Cleopatra, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Marie Curie, Mary Magdalene, Harriet Tubman, Mulan, Nefertiti, and Catherine the Great. Based on my incomplete knowledge of Egyptian theology, there are two people in that list who could be described as divine, and the others are heroic women. Praying to heroines is fine. We’re all polytheists here. Let’s pour spirits out on the ground and offer them chrysanthemums or whatever is culturally appropriate. The “Women of Worship” category is eclectic, and the core thread seems to be that the divine beings mentioned there are ones from religions that are generally recognized as being valid and real in broader cultural spheres, whereas our polytheistic Goddesses are seen by them as just stories or personifications of natural forces.

This is not the only website to offer higher-end Goddess necklaces. It’s the more theurgic side of the modern occult aesthetic boom, and many of these websites also have sigil necklaces and similar.

Common Era is another website that offers these pendants. If we take a look at their menu, they have a “Goddess Quiz” designed to match someone with the Goddess they should be wearing. The collections include: the Goddess Collection, the Nine Muses, the Talisman Collection, Botticelli’s Daydream, and the Foundation Collection. The site map is much less complex than Awe Inspired.

An image of the Ourania necklace.

Here, for example, is a $245 pendant for Ourania. I have lusted after this for probably a year. It is on a Google Keep wishlist that mostly contains aspirational self items. Being in a vibe where I’m reading a lot of foundational habitual virtue things by Platonists, I now have lines from Simplicius, Damascius, and others in my inner monologue, so the list has mostly been cleared out — this, a Polymnia pendant, and a washable yoga mat are the only things on the aspirational self wishlist that are not Modern or Ancient Greek courses I’d like to take someday or books. $245 is a lot to drop on a pendant for a Goddess. It’s also ,,, where would I even put it? I already wear a necklace for Hestia/Vesta (I identify them together, which some do, some don’t) and for Athene. Might as well just get a tattoo at that price point, or just meditate on Ourania and receive divine connection to the Goddess for the cost of a stick of incense and a carving out of time. The one thing wrong with my jewelry situation is the ring for Apollon of a serpent that I have worn since I was 20 or so, which sometimes snags on towels and clothes, and all I think I really need there is to talk to someone who does stuff with metal to see if they can make it less bite-y. I haven’t taken the ring off in so long that I don’t even know if I can.

There are less expensive options for acquiring pendants. The one I have for Athene is one example. I do not like the Etsy pendants that are styled after coins. Poise Jewellers in Toronto, Canada, has pendants ranging from $30-45, depending on what the exchange rate is doing, and my necklace has held up well given that I have an active lifestyle in which I hit 8000-10000 steps (working in higher ed is amazing) and do not remove my jewelry during spin class. It’s a limited set of Goddesses, though, and the etching is not as deep as some of the pricier stuff. Jorie Breonn seems to be pious and not secular, and her shop is priced a bit higher (about $100 for a piece). I’m really happy with the Vesta pendant I have from her. Wanderlust + Co has some, although I’ve never shopped there. It seems that every shop has a design, and there are many options for people who want to bring the vibe of a specific Goddess into their lives. Most of these sites are targeted at women, and they don’t offer chain options that someone into more masculine styles would usually go for.

Reading the reviews for the Ourania piece provides a beautiful insight into why people who are likely not polytheists are buying these necklaces. The one that I still think about sometimes — remember, I’ve had that on my aspirational self Google Keep wishlist for a long time — is the research scientist who commemorated finding a job with getting the piece. I suspect that she’s in astrophysics or cosmology or some kind of role that supports that discipline. She’s not the only reviewer who bought this pendant to commemorate a science career milestone or due to the affinity between Ourania and the astronomical sciences.

There are definitely purchasers, likely driven by Instagram ads and Influencers, who just see these pieces as another accessory, though, despite the high cost. When someone wears something for religious reasons, it’s highly likely that they will never wear secular jewelry because that means taking off a piece that is spiritually meaningful and charged by the relationship one has with a God in prayer. I bought the Athene necklace, for example, when I was starting my 34th year of life and I wanted a reminder of it. It evolved into a piece I wore, and I hated the idea of taking it off and replacing it with something else at 35 so much that I just … didn’t. I’ve never seen an Apollon necklace I’ve liked, or for that matter a statue of him in wood or stone, because the iconography popular online is not the iconography I prefer for him. I think of him as black holes and billowing fabric and laurel and plucked strings, much like this piece, except I wish he were more clothed like this. Perhaps it’s also because I have a more gender-neutral mental image of him due to the way my worship of him has unfolded, which was oddly confirmed reading the Platonic Theology and noting his position in the triad with Aletheia and Helios as the intermediate term, which is often feminized. It’s really interesting how a God’s signs and symbols can flow across the centuries and across cultures from being a God involved in the initiation of young men into adulthood to being a somewhat androgynous God associated with light, harmony, and words that, when spoken, are and always have been. Going into theurgic contemplative meditation and being from a different cultural background kinda does impact the symbols that work best for us for connecting with a God — such things are okay and, in fact, healthy. We’re not historical reenactors. We’re worshipping Gods.

But back to the topic of this post. One of the things I pick up on about our culture in the United States is the hunger for meaning. (This is not esoteric, as it’s a huge theme running through social commentary to the point of cliché.) Desiring to wear the image of a Goddess is a desire for the deity, no matter how much that is mediated by what people have going on and the mental blocks they have. We all know that divine images are sacred, and there wouldn’t be a market for wearable charms of the Gods if that were not the case. The expensiveness of many of these pieces points to their sacredness, too. They’re not something that most people buy just to have. Unless you’re ultra-upper-middle class or wealthy, you’re not going to simply drop a month or two’s worth of grocery money on an image like this. People buy these things at meaningful points in their lives, much like other expensive types of jewelry in our culture — promise and wedding rings (did you know chastity rings were pagan? I learned that in Damascius’ Philosophical History, and I bet a lot of evangelicals would lose their moorings if they knew that), a favorite watch, and so on. Sometimes they’re for us, and sometimes they’re for others.

So many people identify as “spiritual, but not religious.” As I learned when looking at self-help books on ritual, people in that category may even be setting up altars and shrines to Goddesses as focal points for meditations, yet still be treating the deities as personifications and not really thinking about offerings. Some people have blocks because actually worshipping Goddesses is associated with pop culture witchcraft and the occult in our society, while others have trauma associated with a religion they were raised in or a cult they fell into through birth or life-path. One big hurdle we have in the polytheist community is how to communicate that people can just worship on their own without having to identify as some word or other or do “witchy” things or get really into all of that. It’s not “weird” or “pseudoscientific occult stuff” no matter how much Llewellyn pushes the word magic in its book titles. (I just read one that was definitely not about magic. Sooner or later, theurgy is gonna grow into its own.) It’s a set of practices for Gods that billions of people already do, most of them not into magic or specialist practices. That’s the approach I took when putting together The Soul’s Inner Statues — it focuses on building sustainable habits that can be a cornerstone regardless of whether people join groups or not or what kind of polytheistic practice they find themselves involved in at some point in the future. One of my actual audiences is people who would buy a Goddess pendant out of fondness. I have hope for paganism and polytheism in part because wearing these images is becoming normalized, and that broadens the possibilities for people learning about piety as long as we stay on-message, focus on the essentials, and don’t assume that everyone interested in Goddesses wants to do specialist practices.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief, shallow look at modern deity amulets (mostly) in the secular sphere. Have a great weekend, everyone.

8 thoughts on “What Can We Learn From the Goddess Necklace Trend?

  1. Well I suppose if nothing else we can use trends like this to have conversations with folks that might gently nudge them into going deeper. I sometimes complement/ask strangers/acquaintances about symbols/images they wear (jewelry/clothes/tattoos) tho I’m careful in how I phrase it so I don’t make them uncomfortable! I’m especially not surprised to this kind of crap on jewelry websites, I’m already aware of how sloppy they are with what symbols mean. They’re just trying to sell things, but I always want to know what something means before I wear it or use it as decoration. Women’s/Goddess spirituality has long been a bit…generous at using the word goddess but *usually they say heroine/hero/shero for historic people. Generally I’ve just seen people further back in history, Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, seems pretty strange & inappropriate to be calling recently deceased people who don’t even have beliefs that would be OK with this “goddesses”, it’s already tricky honoring them as ancestors sometimes.

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    1. Certainly! I was reading a book on Norse Goddesses and, when I entered it into the Story Graph for tracking, I saw a bunch of other books come up when I was searching for the title. Driven by curiosity, I typed the title of one book and the author’s name into the search box. It was The Norse Goddess by Monica Sjöö. I was curious because I’ve generally found reading books by Scandi polytheist authors to be illuminating (although the author above seems to have been a Goddessian) — my maternal family is Scandi American and the cultural anecdotes are nice to read.


  2. Correction: She was not invoked in magic spells to as far as I’m aware. I misinterpreted an account that said a priest in 373 CE “overlaid her image in gold”. This is meant to mean he overlaid a statue of Cleopatra in gold. I originally thought an image of Cleopatra was used to bless something. Apologies for the confusion

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  3. The moment I saw the heading “Real Life Goddesses” next to the Goddesses of various pantheons I was incredibly suspicious. My suspicions were confirmed regarding what a list of “Real Life Goddesses” would be and I wanted to punch a wall for a good fifteen minutes. Was “Women of History” or “Venerable Women” too much to ask for? We just had to imply that the other Goddesses were fake? Except for the Goddesses worshipped by people that had enough clout to cause a ruckus boycotting them of course!

    And yes, both queens that you mentioned were considered divine. In fact, Cleopatra’s full name is Cleopatra Thea Philopator which means “Cleopatra, the Goddess that Loves Her Father” (alternatively, “Goddess Beloved of Her Father”). She was even one of the three pharaohs who were worshipped while alive as Gods instead of merely semidivine while alive before becoming divine after death (the other two pharaohs worshipped while alive were Rameses II and Amenhotep III). There’s even evidence that Cleopatra’s cult lasted for centuries after She died as there are references to Her image being used in magic spells. So yeah, Cleopatra isn’t a “Real Life Goddess”. She’s a Goddess. Full stop. And the fact that She is being upheld as superior to the Gods She worshipped when She was alive I have no doubt is something She’d find pretty offensive.

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  4. On that first image, the fact that there is a category called “The Celtics” immediately makes me cringe…apparently, the Men’s Basketball team from Boston is being confused with a culture and a group of Goddesses. 😦

    This is an interesting set of reflections, and a good set of suggestions.

    Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel that when a term like “Goddess” now has an entirely secular meaning that is almost totally divorced from its actual/historical meaning, not unlike “Queen” and other terms, that something has really been lost.

    The same can be said about “God” as well, to an extent, but in our culture, there’s a hint of “blasphemy” and “idolatry” about that, when someone has “tha God” as part of their name, or someone is described as a “local God” or whatever, since there’s an awful lot of Christians out there who think that “God” IS the name of their particular Deity (if they don’t think it’s Jehovah…and let’s not get started on that!).

    But, what do I know? I guess all that time living amongst and studying “The Celtics” kind of leads to particular biases, admittedly.

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    1. LOL I didn’t even catch that they did that. I never think of the football team, though, so that explains why!

      I agree that “Goddess” is often used for mortal women in a very wrong way, and your rationale for why “God” isn’t subject to the same linguistic drift sounds right to me. Then again, I often call Goddesses “Gods,” much like actor is now a gender-neutral term and “actress” is (at least in theory; I’d have to do an n-gram search to verify) being used less. I’m not consistent about that, though.


      1. Slight correction: “Celtic” is the Scottish football team; “Celtics” (pluralized…the only such form attested properly, if I am not mistaken!) is the Boston basketball team. 😉

        To cover all the bases, I often say, “Goddesses, Gods, and Deities,” or some variation thereon, because even though “Gods” does get used (now and in the past!) as an all-genders collective (not unlike “guys,” for good or ill!), because the importance of recognizing female divine beings has been suppressed, and because gender-diverse/non-male-or-female divine beings (and people and other beings, for that matter!) are often occluded, ignored, or disrespected, I make sure to cover all bases. If there’s a word limit involved, I will just leave it at “Deities” most often.

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